Latest on the Canadiens, Senators, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LA PRESSE: Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin doesn’t expect his difficult end to this season will result in a trade this summer. While Drouin acknowledged his late-season offensive struggles, he believes his club has a good group of players and doesn’t anticipate changing sweaters. Drouin said he understood why his playing time was reduced during a crucial game against the Carolina Hurricanes, adding he wants to help the team in any way he could.
Jonathan Drouin expects to be back with the Montreal Canadiens next season (Photo via NHL Images).
Drouin admitted being puzzled by his late-season slump. Teammates like Carey Price supported Drouin, who want to help him improve his consistency. General manager Marc Bergevin praised Drouin’s maturity and expects he’ll take another step forward next season. Drouin finished the season with 53 points.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens will be looking for a backup goaltender as free agent Antti Niemi won’t be back after struggling through this season. Charlie Lindgren could be an option but he didn’t have a good season with the Habs farm team in Laval. Bergevin could go shopping for a veteran backup if he feels Lindgren isn’t ready.
Pat Hickey feels it’s unlikely Bergevin can lure free-agent talent to Montreal, citing issues such as “taxes, weather, travel and whether their wives are going to happy.” The Canadiens GM also seems reluctant to go the offer-sheet route as he’s averse to trading away first-round draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens fans were unhappy with Drouin’s performance down the stretch, and he does seem to sulk on the bench sometimes when things aren’t going his way. However, he’s 24 and still has room to improve his consistency and maturity. It certainly sounds like Bergevin isn’t giving up on Drouin so I wouldn’t expect to see the winger getting traded this summer.
Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $64.3 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20 with all their core players under contract. Assuming a salary cap of $83 million, Bergevin will have around $19 million to re-sign his restricted free agents and to pursue a top-four left-side defenseman, an established scoring forward and a backup goalie. I expect he’ll look into the free-agent market and could make an affordable signing or two.
To address his bigger needs, however, he’ll likely have to go the trade route, which he did with success last summer by acquiring Max Domi and Tomas Tatar. Bergevin is reluctant to part with his first-round picks but he’s got two selections in the second round and three in the fifth of this year’s draft plus two in the fourth round in 2020 to draw upon for trade bait.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports changes will continue this summer for the Senators. They are in the market for a new head coach. It’s expected they’ll attempt to re-sign free agents Anthony Duclair and Brian Gibbons but could part ways with Magnus Paajarvi and Oscar Lindberg.
Garrioch expects they’ll attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Cody Ceci but could trade him if an agreement on a new contract cannot be reached. He also suggested using Ben Harpur as trade bait to bring in a forward.
Garrioch thinks they could backup goalie Anders Nilsson depart via free agency if he seeks more than a one-year contract. He also tweeted yesterday GM Pierre Dorion said they may add a veteran player on July 1.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson believes the Senators would be wise to retain veteran starting goalie Craig Anderson through the final season of his contract. He notes a couple of teams, including the Calgary Flames, had interest in Anderson at the trade deadline, but the return for aging goaltenders hasn’t been good in the trade market. Stevenson feels Anderson’s experience and affordable cap hit for next season makes him worth retaining for next season.
Stevenson also reported contract talks between the Senators and Ceci have been positive thus far. While Senators fans pointed to Ceci’s poor advanced stats, management likes how he eats up tough minutes against top opposition. Despite the acrimony of last year’s salary arbitration hearing, Ceci wants to stay and the club wants to keep him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson asked to be dealt last June but his age and cap hit didn’t attract much interest. If there are clubs looking at him this summer they’ll likely only give up a low draft pick to get him. With the Senators rebuilding and lacking skilled depth between the pipes, I think they’ll keep him around for next season and test his market value leading up to the trade deadline.
As for Ceci, it certainly sounds as though he could have a long-term future in Ottawa. That isn’t going to please his critics among Sens followers but management values his experience and ability to log big minutes, which will be vital for their rebuilding blueline.
Having shed notable stars like Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, the Senators have over $45 million invested in 14 players for next season. Ceci, Duclair and Colin White are their notable free agents. Assuming it costs around $10 million to re-sign those three, they’ll still have to spend over $5 million to reach what could be a $60 million cap minimum. They won’t be going after any big-name talent but I expect they’ll attempt to bring in one or two quality veterans with leadership experience.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will be in the market for a second-line center, a top-four defenseman, and a backup goaltender. Fletcher considers this summer’s UFA market to be “Ok, not elite”. The top potential UFA include ” defensemen Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers, and Anton Stralman, and forwards Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Kevin Hayes.”
Fletcher also said he’s never extended an offer sheet to another club’s restricted free agent and Boruk doubts he’ll do so this summer. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has one year left on his contract with a $5-million cap hit, would appear a likely candidate for a contract buyout. However, Fletcher said he’s not a big fan of contract buyouts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have over $47 million tied up in 13 players. Fletcher has more than enough to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim and still have enough to make a big splash in the free agent or trade pools this summer. It’s assumed Cam Talbot will return as a backup and mentor for rookie Carter Hart. Fletcher could eye Karlsson or Duchene in the free-agent market.